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Dogs Trust urgently needs more foster carers in Essex

23 Sep Dogs Trust urgently needs more foster carers in Essex

Almost nine in 10 professionals working in the domestic abuse sector in the Essex area have seen cases where a pet has also been abused, according to shocking new statistics released by Dogs Trust. The figures have been released ahead of the 15th anniversary of the charity’s Freedom Project and third anniversary of the service in Essex, supporting people fleeing domestic abuse by providing temporary accommodation for their dogs.

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, have been operating the service in Essex since 2016. New figures reveal that over 6 in 10 (63%) of dogs owned by survivors of domestic abuse who accessed Dogs Trust Freedom project in the Essex area, have also been subjected to abuse.

The charity polled professionals who work with survivors of domestic abuse in London and the Home Counties, to better understand the scale of abuse against pets within abusive relationships in this area. Worryingly, the findings showed that almost half (47%) of professionals working in the sector are aware of domestic abuse cases where the pet has been killed. In addition to the physical abuse that pets may suffer, 98%of professionals said they are also often used as a means of controlling someone experiencing domestic abuse.

More than nine in 10 professionals (93%)also said that some survivors will not leave their home without knowing their pet would be safe.

In 2004 Dogs Trust launched its Freedom Project, offering vital support for dog owners who are escaping from domestic abuse. The Freedom Project provides foster homes for dogs which enables survivors to access safe accommodation without the fear of what may happen to their dog if left behind. Dogs Trust offers this service as many refuges are unable to accept dogs, so this important service gives pet owners the opportunity to escape abuse, safe in the knowledge that their dogs will also be safe and well cared for.

The service currently operates across the whole of Essex, alongside 28 other counties across England. In the last year alone, due to a recent expansion of the service, the number of dogs being fostered through its Freedom project in Greater London and the Home Counties has more than doubled, from 24 between January and July 2018, compared to 48 in the same period in 20193.

Dogs Trust has now expanded its Freedom project into Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and the North West4 and since launching has helped 1,418 dogs and 1,083 people.

Louise Gostling, Dogs Trust Freedom Project Coordinator for Essex said:

“Alongside suffering physical abuse, we know that dogs are also often used by perpetrators as a means to coerce and control their partners. This is incredibly frightening for survivors and can range from perpetrators stopping their partner from accessing vet care for their dogs or spending money on dog food, through to repeatedly threatening to harm, kill or ‘get rid’ of their dogs. As many refuges are unable to accept pets, survivors are understandably concerned about their dog’s safety when they need to escape.

“Over the last year alone the demand on our services in Essex has more than doubled which is why we have recently expanded our Freedom Project nationally to support even more survivors and their pets from abuse. We urgently need more foster carers in Essex so that we can continue this life-saving work.”

Dogs Trust Freedom Project needs foster carers in Essex to support this vital service. If you think you can help or would like more information on the service, please visit: Alternatively contact or call 0800 298 9199.